Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized ... Acts 9:18
On this subject, blog reader Joey Higgins comments on a recent post, regarding the apparent futility of arguing with someone who refuses to argue in good faith; the occasional pointlessness of pointing things out to the blind -
"Sometimes it takes a long time, but the arguments left sometimes sink in. Most times I think that if we are successful in convincing someone, we may never know.What Joey is talking about here is that Sin makes you Blind.
I had an argument with a woman in the youth ministry about the way she was 'leading guys on' and she was angry at me for about 2 months before admitting I was at least a little correct. Most times, I don't think most would get even that.
I know that from my personal changes and maturation that it takes a lot to change someone's mind and a long time."
The greatest gift of the Holy Spirit day in and day out is simply to show us our sins. Because we never really want to see them. We tie ourselves in knots in order to quiet our consciences and turn a blind eye to the selfishness that typically propels us.
For example, when I was an atheist, my intellectual position had much more to do with a kind of general rebellion and anger at authority figures than at anything rational. And even as a practising Catholic, any time I've given myself over to a favorite sin, I have found it so strikingly easy to gloss over my behavior - I was special, other people wouldn't understand, the good intentions outweighed the bad actions, etc.
Therefore we sacrifice reason to will, and we argue out of a secret alliance with our vested interests. Indeed, certain vested interests must be at play when people defend (as they have on this blog in 2012 alone) underage sex, Christians gazing upon naked bodies, consequentialism, and so forth. When people keep their eyes clamped shut on such self-evident issues, it's usually because they don't want the truth to spoil their fun.
And likewise, I could no more have been argued out of my atheism than an alcoholic can be argued out of the bottle. Does a porn addict know that porn is wrong? Certainly, at some level. Will he ever admit it, even if presented with the most convincing intellectual and emotional arguments? No, not until there is a change of heart.
What produces this change of heart, the first step in repentance, is a mystery. It is undoubtedly God's grace, but how a sinner can close his heart for many years and then let a bit of truth seep in, let a bit of light in at a crack through the dark door, is not something we can predict. Hitting rock bottom, being convinced of the damage your "precious" sin is causing, being stripped of your emotional garments and your barriers against God, being scourged at the pillar - all of these things can help. So can arguments, but only as a kind of accompaniment to the drone of the conscience - which, like a persistent ringing in the ears, is tuned out. The deaf have ears but they do not hear, the blind have eyes but they do not see.
And this applies, to a certain extent, to all of us - in so far as we cling to our sins.
For as long as we cherish sin, the light will shine in the darkness and the darkness will perceive it not.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. - John 3:19